By Joel Robbins
Read Online or Download Becoming Sinners: Christianity and Moral Torment in a Papua New Guinea Society (Ethnographic Studies in Subjectivity, 4) PDF
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Extra resources for Becoming Sinners: Christianity and Moral Torment in a Papua New Guinea Society (Ethnographic Studies in Subjectivity, 4)
They did not adopt Christianity in bits and pieces seized upon as syncretic patches for a traditional cultural fabric worn thin in spots by their attempts to stretch it to ﬁt new situations. Rather, they took it up as a meaningful system in its own right, one capable of guiding many areas of their lives. That is to say, change in Urapmin was not a matter, as so much contemporary anthropology expects, of a traditional culture assimilating a new one and constructing in the process a hybrid entity that is either still largely traditional or else different from both of its starting points.
Yet in Urapmin, the colonial and postcolonial eras have led to very little in the way of socioeconomic change. With the exception of two men who have spent the last ten years working in unskilled positions in Tabubil, a mining town in the Min region, all Urapmin make their way through life as subsistence gardeners. 1 Hence the “infrastructure” of Urapmin life hardly changed at all during the period that saw their rapid and thorough turn to Christianity. Indeed, if you went to Urapmin and did not listen to what people said but only watched what they did (and if in doing so you ignored the obviously Christian rituals they performed), Urapmin life in the early 1990s would look for all the world like it ﬁt the stereotype of traditional Papua New Guinea village life.
It also ensured that in spatial terms the Telefomin station would become a central place in the region. The importance of Telefomin in the emerging colonial spatial order rendered the Urapmin peripheral to that order in a way they had never been to the traditional one. Although they share the Iﬁtaman valley with the Telefolmin, because the Urapmin lacked (and still lack) an airstrip they quickly became more marginal than many other, more distant groups to what went on at the Telefomin station. Tucked away in their corner of the valley, the Urapmin are segregated from Telefomin by the Sepik River gorge.
Becoming Sinners: Christianity and Moral Torment in a Papua New Guinea Society (Ethnographic Studies in Subjectivity, 4) by Joel Robbins